Ain’t gonna work, man.

Letter from the PAP Community Foundation (Bedok Branch).

(image via mrbrown; read the SDP website for more info if you don’t have graphics support.)

Well, if Freakonomics is to be believed, the scheme ain’t gonna work.

In fact, it could potentially backfire on the daycare centre in that the teachers end up doing extra work for no pay (I’m assuming the ‘fine’ goes to the centre and won’t get channelled to the teachers as ‘overtime’ pay).

And knowing how good some Singaporeans are at finding bargains, some parents could very well pick up their children 40 minutes after the official release time to effectively get 40 extra minutes of child minding for free!

That is, the letter illustrates the fine for each five-minute block from 12.05pm/5.05pm to 12.35/5.35pm, but doesn’t say anything about what happens if people come at, say, 12.40pm/5.40pm.

The letter needs an additional clause in the example after the last bullet point that says “and so on” or “etc” or something to that effect to prevent any grounds for quibbling.

But even then, the centre still hasn’t provided a terminal point, or a time limit in terms of how long it will wait for the parent to pick up her/his child.

So what’s a poor childcare centre to do?

It can’t boot the kids out when they’re done for the day (unethical) but the teachers are human beings and need time after work ends to eat/rest/go for courses, etc. too.

I’d suggest they could consider the following:

  1. Send their staff for English language re-training (which I can conduct – for a fee, of course),
  2. Rewrite the letter as part of their homework, this time phrasing it in this manner:
    • Parents to be given a 15 minutes grace period, following which
    • Parents to be fined $50* for every 15-minute block of time in which their child/ward remains at the centre.
    • If the parents have still not arrived after, say, 45 minutes from the time the child has been released, a certain procedure will be taken to place the child in another authority’s custody**.

* The number is arbitrary, but I think it’s sufficiently large enough to act as a deterrent, which is what the centre is looking for, anyway.
** Whatever procedure the centre has for dealing with cases of abandonment or neglect e.g. taking the kid to the nearest police post after the parent has been duly notified or if all attempts to contact the parent has gone unanswered.

What do you think?

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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